Pune: Delhi Daredevils strengthened their reputation as the team to beat in IPL 2012 and marched to a convincing victory over Pune Warriors at the Subrata Roy Stadium, with four overs to spare. Warriors had won both previous matches at their new home stadium but were unable to collect a third success after posting too few runs with the bat despite a third-wicket stand of 145 between Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa.
Warriors bowlers had few answers for Virender Sehwag and struggled to keep him quiet as they were unable to find the right lines, despite a stern team talk by Allan Donald at the innings break. Their only success came with the run-out of Mahela Jayawardene and wicket of Kevin Pietersen, who top-edged to mid-on. Warriors' batsmen were made to rue a slow start and an inability to get going despite plundering 47 runs off the last four overs.
Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel did early damage to Warriors and removed Jesse Ryder and Sourav Ganguly in the first two overs. Ryder was guilty of a lazy push in front and was bowled by Irfan's second ball, which kept low and snuck through him and Ganguly sliced Morkel to third man. Warriors were 2 for 2 and needed a quick recovery.
Pandey and Uthappa put up a solid resistance and balanced caution with the need to attack fairly well early on. Pandey opened the boundary count with a confident pull over mid-on off Irfan and a superb drive on the up off Umesh Yadav.
Just as the pair started to break the shackles, Daredevils left-arm spin duo of Pawan Negi and Shahbaz Nadeem made sure they were restrained again. They gave away just 33 runs in the six overs they bowled in tandem. Negi should also have had the wicket of Pandey to his name. Pandey hit a full ball straight to Kevin Pietersen at long-on but Pietersen seemed to think it would not carry to him and allowed it fall safely.
Nadeem also had a chance to claim Pandey's wicket, when the batsmen hit a delivery straight back to him in his final over. The ball was hit hard and Nadeem got his hands up in time but could not hold on. Despite putting down both chances Pandey offered them, Daredevils were still able to keep a lid on Warriors.
Pandey looked to go bigger in the last six overs and started by smacking Irfan for a four down the ground to reach his half-century off 40 balls. He could not get away though, as Negi's final over kept the pressure on, although he too dropped a return catch which would have sent Pandey back.
The only option was to target the quicks at the end. Pandey used Umesh Yadav's extra pace to his advantage, hitting him over long-on and past third man while Uthappa tried the same off Morkel. He inside-edged a yorker four four and smacked a ball to long-on before scooping a ball over short fine leg to bring up his half-century. Both batsmen played fine knocks but Sehwag's proved better.
Daredevils' captain started with a mix of fortune and fury as he was involved in the mix-up which saw Jayawardene run out and inside edged Ashish Nehra for four. In between those, he pulled Nehra in front of square to show some measure of control and seized the rest of it against Luke Wight. He helped a ball to fine leg for four and smashed a slower one over long-on for six. He also won the battle of the captains when he too two boundaries off Ganguly's only over.
With Kevin Pietersen at the other end, Sehwag took Daredevils halfway to their target by the time the time out was called after seven overs. When Pietersen was caught by Ryder for 27, Daredevils needed just 36 more to win. Ross Taylor got some much needed time at the crease and accompanied Sehwag for the last rites. Sehwag continued to pepper the boundary rope and won the match with a six over long-on to create some distance between Daredevils and their rivals at the top of the table.